Last Sunday after Pentecost ~Year
B ~ Christ the King Sunday
Saint Paul's Episcopal
November 25, 2006
Christ the King
for the Day
X Daniel 7:
I greet you in the name of God our
Creator, Christ our Brother, and the Holy
Spirit who sustains and sanctifies us, empowering us
to love and to serve both God and Christ.
Christ the King Sunday
-- the New Year's Eve of the Christian Calendar. Today is
the day when we reflect back on the joyful journey from
Advent through Christmas to Epiphany. It is the day we
recall the slow, sad march from Ash Wednesday through Lent
to the despair of Good Friday. It is the day we recall the
triumph of Easter and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the
church at Pentecost.
remember all the days and weeks following Pentecost -- the
days of ordinary time -- that lead up to today, the
Sunday of Christ the King. Today is a day we are
reminded -- because we all need reminding --
that Christ is not only the Lord
of our lives, but ruler of the universe and of all that
was, all that is, and all that is to come.
the King" Sunday. How quaint, you might think, as I
indeed thought when I began to reflect on these lessons.
We don't have much experience with royalty here in
the United States. And most of the royals we do see on the
world stage are domesticated almost to the point of parody
-- trotted out for ceremonial occasions, but otherwise
consigned to the tabloids as they decry their own -- and
their kinfolk's -- poor choices in husbands, wives, lovers
twentieth-century Kingship is life in a fishbowl. And it
is a life few of us -- even those of us with delusions of
grandeur -- would want. The examples we see in modern
life strip "Kingship" of all its power and majesty.
for us -- we lose
something when we give up the regal dimension of our
enthronement, royal processions and judgment by a regent
of some sort are threads that run through the warp and
woof of the great tapestry that is our Christian Bible.
They are certainly themes
everywhere evident in today's lessons.
entirety of Psalm 93 is a paean to the Lord as
king. In fact, this psalm is known as one of the
"enthronement" psalms. Psalm 93 begins with a
description of a "king . . . robed in majesty". The
language is rapid, condensed, and forceful* -- almost like
thunder -- and concludes less than eighty words later with
praise of the Lord because the Lord's decrees/laws are
* Carroll Stuhlmueller in Harpers Bible Commentary,
this is a King to throw in with -- this is
not some tabloid figurehead, trying to keep his or her
children from siring heirs with everyone in sight. This is
a King to obey, a King in whom we could seek refuge.
consider our lesson from the vision of the prophet Daniel
-- thrones are set in place and flames issue forth. "The
Ancient One" takes the throne and the court sits in
judgment and the books are opened. And one like a human
comes from the clouds. And the text tells us:
"To him was given dominion and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations and languages should serve
him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that
shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that
shall never be destroyed."
Daniel 7:14 (NRSV)
you might ask?
It is a fair question, and I promise to deal with it in a
moment. Suffice it for now to say just this: If you
believe any of this Bible stuff at all, the whole story
seems to have much to do with a King. And the King --
whatever else the King does or is -- is powerful and
majestic and prone to evaluate our obedience or lack
let's reflect briefly on the balance of today's lessons.
of Mark gives us the familiar story of Jesus' entry
into Jerusalem on the Sunday before the crucifixion.
We remember this as "Palm Sunday" but Mark recounts no
palm branches waving. What Mark does have is
two things that bring us back to our study of Kingship.
First, cloaks and leafy branches are spread out on the
road -- evoking Israel's royal processions. Clearly,
those around him see in Jesus something worthy of laud and
honor. Beyond that, though, they run ahead of Jesus --
"Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
Mark 11:9b,10 (NRSV)
is an unfamiliar word: "Hosanna." Whatever in the
world could it; however in the world does it tie in to
Kingship? I always assumed Hosanna just meant
"Hallelujah" or "Alright" or -- in today's parlance "You
the word Hosanna means much, much more. In
today's Gospel, the word Hosanna means "Save
now" or "Save, I pray!" And who -- above all others --
has the power of life and death over subjects? Who,
indeed, can save? The king can save, that's who. Christ
the King can save!
in The Revelation to John we find echoes of
Kingship woven throughout today's text: the seven spirits
are before the throne, and Jesus is spoken of as
"the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings
of the earth". We are given to understand that we are
"to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father."
-- in the last verse of the last lesson of the last Sunday
in the Church year -- we hear about the King in whom we
have put our trust:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," say the Lord God, "who
is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Revelation 1:8 (NRSV)
It's Christ the King Sunday. So
Think about the world you left to come to this worship
and the world you will re-enter when you leave this
place. It is a world that fairly shouts: "This is all
there is! Get as much as you can, as fast as you
can, because it will all be over in a twinkling."
You know that there is far more to life than meets the
eye. You know that the Christ of Psalm Sunday is part
of the Godhead of Revelation: "the Alpha and the Omega
. . . who is and who was and who is to come, the
rise and fall. As hard as it is to believe, a day will
come when there is no Old Glory flying over a country
called the United States of America. The sun has set on
the British Empire; it will set on the United States. But
our God is forever. We have been grafted into
eternal life by our belief in Christ the King. Our God is
"the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is and who was and who
is to come, the Almighty."
It's Christ the King Sunday. So
Think about the streams of religious thought afoot
in the world.
Gods you can't please, and Gods that require
nothing at all. The Gods you can't please yield
anxious striving from their devotees; the Gods who require
nothing, yield nothing and get nothing.
We live daily the story
of Christ the King, a different kind of King who --
as Revelation tells us in today's lesson -- "freed us from
his sins by his blood and made us to be a Kingdom, priests
serving his God and Father . . . "
Revelation 1:5b, 6a (NRSV)
Here is a
God who requires everything and then -- finding us unable
to give what is asked -- gives himself up for us.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch
It's Christ the King Sunday. So
what (and this is Big Stuff!): You and I (and all those
who believe in Christ) are heirs of Christ the King.
It is, admittedly, a different kind of Kingship. A
Kingship where the first are last, the last are first and
the meek inherit the earth. And it is a kingship that
never dies -- one that issues forth first into a life of
service and humility and sacrifice and love, and then into
an eternal life of praise and thanksgiving.
is no "ordinary time" for us as children of Christ the
Every day is an extraordinary opportunity to
claim our heritage and to speak love into hate,
bring joy into sorrow, work peace where there is
discord. There is no ordinary time because we have
thrown in with an extraordinary God, with Christ the King!
So . . .
claim your royal lineage! Go forth from here as child of
the King to proclaim God's love and God's light to a dark
and loveless world.
the King reigns -- now and forever more.
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